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How to Handle Dog Bite Injuries

Relevant sections of Maryland Law make the owner of a dog is liable for any injury, death, or loss to person or property that is caused by the dog, when the dog is running at large. This includes injuries when the dog is off the leash and arguably when the dog is on a leash but the dog owner is not attentive enough to timely prevent their dog from attacking another person.

Notwithstanding, a owner is generally not liable if the injured person was trespassing or attempting to trespass on the owner's property; committing or attempting to commit another crime on the owner's property; committing or attempting to commit a criminal offense against any other person, or provoking, abusing, teasing, or tormenting the dog. Additionally, the dog owner is not financially liable, under Maryland law, if the dog owner can show that the victim's negligence contributed in any way - no matter how small - towards the dog bite related incident.

Maryland's law covers both injuries inflicted by a dog bite AND also injuries inflicted by other types of dog behavior. For instance, an individual is on a sidewalk when suddenly a dog (free from leash) runs towards that individual who trips, falls and breaks a wrist while attempting to run away from the dog, the dog's owner can be held liable for damages related to that injury under Section 3-1901 of the 2019 Maryland Code, even though it was not caused by a bite. Further, it is important to understand that in Maryland, the dog owner is strictly liable which means the dog's owner is responsible for damages caused by the dog's behavior, even if the owner did not know the dog would act aggressively and even if the owner took reasonable care to prevent the dog from causing injuries. Lastly, criminal charges may also be brought against the owner of a dog that injures or kills someone if the dog is considered a "dangerous dog" under Maryland Code Section 10-619. This law imposes a heightened standard of care by requiring dog owners to keep the dog on their own property and muzzle and restrain the dog when the dog travels off the property or risk being charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense in addition to possibly more serious felony offenses related to the attack itself, if a dangerous dog causes severe injury or death.


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